“When you let me fall, grew my own wings, now I’m as tall as the sky; When you let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I’m as deep as the sea”
When I told Erin that I was promoted to sous chef, she asked if I was excited about it. My response was something probably typical of me, “Sure” or “Uh huh”. Truth be told, the timing of my promotion couldn’t have been worse for me, and please don’t mistake this as me complaining. I was handed an offer that I couldn’t refuse at a time when I had every reason to, except to do so would have been suicide for my career where I currently work.
Just five or six weeks prior to being offered the sous chef job, I was sitting in a hospital room, Erin pretty much out of it due to being on magnesium, worried that my wife, child, or both, wouldn’t survive the process of giving birth. As hard as the whole process was on Erin physically, it was nearly as demanding on me mentally. Of course both Erin and Nate survived, but the process was uglier and more demanding than even the person with the least amount expectations could have anticipated. And any optimism that the worst was behind us was soon put to rest inside of two weeks as postpartum depression took hold of Erin.
At the worst of times I found it difficult not to be angry at Erin, though I knew full well it wasn’t her fault. But that didn’t matter when you have to deal with both a crying baby and a crying wife, both demanding as much from me as I could give at the time. Fortunately my mom (to whom I owe so much to right now, and in time will repay her love, kindness and patience) was able to come down to help take care of Nate, and increasingly, Erin, while I was at work.
At its worst, the situtation was totally dysfunctional, while at its best, the situation was miserable. The best way I can describe it is that Erin was awake for 21 hours a day, and of those hours she was awake she lay in bed crying, crippled by guilt, fear and the most paralyzing sadness I’d ever been witness to.
The day after Erin admitted herself to the hospital I found out that a co-worker of mine had lost his six year old daughter in a terrible accident. No doubt this served as a reminder to me to remember just how fortunate I was, that no matter how shitty things were for me, they were considerably far worse for somebody else. The unfortunate thing is that somebody else is a person I give a shit about and was unable to be there for in any way. I should have been happy, on top of the fucking world at this point, and I was so far from that that being there for someone else was totally out of the question.
So it was hard if not shocking then, when my chef approached me during all of this about applying for the sous chef job. It was as if I agreed to it out of momentum, out of the belief that life would get better. After all, within five days of Erin being in hospital life did get better, but that’s because there was only Nate to take care of at home, the doctors and nurses were taking care of Erin in the hospital.
Since then life has slowly returned to some level of normality with occasional visits to the hospital for medication adjustments and counseling a reminder every few weeks of just how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. My hours at work kind of blow and have left me wondering for how long can I do this job at this particular restaurant? It’s possible for me to not see Nate for 3 consecutive days each week, and for two other days it’s just a few brief moments we have together. Plus I know I’m asking a lot of Erin, who clearly has her own shit to still deal with and has just returned to work.
I’ve learned a few things about myself throughout the past two or so months, nothing I feel is really either negative or positive, just how I deal with psychological pain. And I’m healing along with Erin, realizing that the pain we’ve been through together has made our lives and love more immediate. No matter how tired I might be at 2:30 in the morning when Nate’s crying to be fed, I just have to glance at him to be reminded how good this life really is, that what I expected is finally happening, just delayed by a few months.